What does being guilty of a criminal offence mean?
Question & AnswerWhat does being guilty of a criminal offence mean?
2. Think about if the Crown can prove a guilty mind
You can only be guilty of a crime if you had a guilty state of mind when you acted illegally. The legal term for a guilty state of mind is .
For an act to be criminal, you must have known what you were doing. But it is more than that. The state of mind required to prove the crime depends on the crime. For most crimes, the state of mind required is either intention or recklessness.
It doesn’t matter if you didn’t know the act was illegal. Not knowing the law is not an excuse or defence.
Some crimes are proven if the Crown shows that you intended the criminal act. This means you did it on purpose.
For example, if you hit someone who made you angry, you applied physical force to them on purpose. You had the guilty state of mind required for the criminal of .
Some crimes are proven if the Crown shows beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted with recklessness. This means you knew there was a risk that you were doing something illegal and you did it anyway. Recklessness is a type of .
For example, if you’re in a fight in a crowded bar, and you swing a beer bottle close to other people, you know there is a risk that you might hit someone. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean to hit them. You knew there was a chance the bottle might hit someone without their consent and you intended to swing the bottle. You had the guilty state of mind required for the criminal offence of assault.